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The Caterer

Comment: Industry must take up front-of-house baton

11 February 2011 by
Comment: Industry must take up front-of-house baton

The claim that the British psyche is not suited to servitude has been so often repeated as to become a truism.

As a nation, we have convinced ourselves that service is best left to those nationalities - the French, the Italians - that deem it a career to be proud of.

Not suited? Try telling that to Ashley, Danielle and James, the three winners of BBC2's landmark front-of-house reality series, Michel Roux's Service. Now that the tears of joy at winning their scholarships have subsided, all three are busily forging front-of-house careers - as are three of their fellow contestants.

Or try telling Elena Salvoni, that doyenne of the London restaurant scene for seven decades, that service isn't a worthwhile career choice. In this week's Caterer, Elena calls her work, "the great richness in my life… I can't explain to you how much pleasure I get from my job".

Michel Roux's Service has taken huge strides towards reversing our long-held perceptions of service - and huge credit must go to Nick Scade and his team at the Academy of Food and Wine Service for forcing service on to the BBC's scheduling sheet.

Now the industry needs to take up the baton. For every Ashley, Danielle and James, there are many thousands of young people who have yet to decide on a career path. Operators need to reach out to them now.

Why not speak to your local college about welcoming students in to sample front of house first-hand? Or encourage staff to visit colleges and promote what they do? Or offer front-of-house work placements or apprenticeships?

Front of house has never enjoyed such a positive profile in the media - let's not squander this unique opportunity to transform perceptions of the merits of a career in service.

Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeepermark.lewis@rbi.co.uk

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